20 Top Emerging Digital Finance Players to Watch in the Philippines
Though in the Philippines fintech is still in the infancy stage, adoption of digital financial services is on the rise. COVID-19 is further accelerating consumers’ shift to digital channels.
A survey conducted earlier this year by PayPal showed that 87% of Filipinos increased their usage of digital payments during the pandemic. An overwhelming 99% said they plan to keep using digital payments even after community quarantines are eased.
While COVID-19 increased usage of fintech services, the volume of ATM withdrawals on the other hand dropped by almost 30% for the first 45 days of the enhanced community quarantine, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
The Philippines Fintech Report 2020, produced by Fintech News Philippines, reveals that there are currently 197 fintech companies, among which 54 operating in the lending space (24%), 48 operating in payments (21%), and 27 e-wallet operators (12%).
Out of these 197 companies, the report names 20 emerging digital finance players to watch out for in 2021. While these are not necessarily the top players that Philippines right now, they are included in the list either because they are doing something interesting, addressing an important area in the market, or is poised for success
JustPayto is a licensed digital payments and money transfer services provider serving individuals and businesses.
Founded in 2015, the startup is building a frictionless ecosystem with financial institutions and e-wallets to offer convenient inter-bank, inter-institution, inter-platform and inter-currency money transfers.
JustPayto, which is still running in private beta, aims to support several payment options, including credit/debit cards, bank fund transfers, online banking, over-the-country (OTC), e-wallet and cryptocurrencies.
Bux is an all-in-one payments platform owned and developed by UBX, the technology innovation and investment arm of UnionBank of the Philippines (UnionBank).
Bux aggregates various payment channels, including OTC and cash-on-delivery (COD) into one simple solution, and is embedded directly into a user’s preferred selling channel, whether that’s a chat app or an e-commerce platform.
Bux is part of Sentro, UBX’s app marketplace.
Founded in 2015, GrowSari is a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce startup focusing on sari-sari stores, or small neighborhood retail shops.
GrowSari provides a platform that helps owners to digitally procure goods for their stores at better prices by eliminating middlemen, and allows them to add new types of products to sell including mobile top-ups, remittances and banking services. The platform uses technology to connect stores directly to the companies, enabling owners to save cost and understand market trends.
GrowSari was one of the finalists of this year’s ORIGIN Innovation Awards by TechNode Global.
Qwikwire specializes in providing real estate solutions for brokers and property developers.
Founded in 2013, its services include software-as-a-service (SaaS) property management solutions, integrated billing and invoicing systems, cross-border settlements via licensed remittance channels, and property listing via its blockchain-powered real estate listing platform Aqwire.
Aqwire leverages blockchain to allows property developers to directly connect with potential buyers, and make cross-border transactions easier.
Qwikwire has received numerous accolades, winning both the Ignite PH and the Geeks on a Beach pitching competitions in 2017.
Launched in 2019, PayMongo offers an online payments API for businesses in the Philippines that can be integrated into websites and apps, allowing owners to accept payments from bank cards and digital wallets like GrabPay and GCash.
PayMongo was the first Filipino fintech startup to take part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. It raised a US$12 million Series A in September 2020.
Powered by UBX, Nextpay is building a business banking suite for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Currently, Nextpay allows businesses to manage and make payments online, generate payment confirmations and reports for record-keeping, disburse salaries, and manage employee savings. It will be adding more services in the future including bill payments and invoicing.
Developed by IT company Togetech, Moneygment is a mobile app launched in 2018 that provides various financial services such as bills payment, money transfer, tax filing and payment, government contributions, and more.
As a one-stop-shop financial solution, the app aims to make financial transactions convenient for self-employed people, SMEs, overseas Filipino workers, and unbanked Filipinos.
ING in the Philippines is the first all-digital bank in the country that enables customers to bank anytime and anywhere. ING Philippines offers a fully digital process, mobile check deposit, free money transfers, 24/7 customer service, and more.
A pioneer in branchless banking, ING is a global bank originally from the Netherlands with presence in more than 40 countries, serving more than 38.4 million customers worldwide. In the Philippines, it has been operating since 1990.
DiskarTech, by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), claims to be the first Taglish financial inclusion “super app” in the Philippines.
Launched in July 2020, the app aims to make banking services more accessible to unbanked Filipinos nationwide, especially those who live in rural areas. With only a few requirements and a stable Internet connection, users can open a bank account in just a few clicks.
The app has been downloaded more than three millions times since its launch.
Komo, by East West Banking Corporation (EastWest), is a digital banking service that allows customers to open and manage their account completely online through a mobile app.
Launched in August 2020, Komo offers a savings account with 3% interest per annum, a Visa debit card, secure bills payment, and free funds transfer services, which are all accessible through the mobile app.
EastWest claims Komo is the first exclusively digital banking service to be offered by a local bank in the Philippines.
Overseas Filipino Bank
Focusing on helping Filipinos employed abroad to send money home faster, OFBank provides services including digital accounts opening, a Visa payment card, remittances, enhanced credit facilities, and more.
The Department of Finance said in November 2020 that 12,542 accounts were opened at OFBank. The digital-only bank had booked PHP 173.8 million (US$3.6 million) worth of transactions through the new deposit accounts, which were opened by clients based in 55 countries and territories.
CIMB Bank Philippines
CIMB Bank Philippines (CIMB Bank PH), the latest member of the CIMB Group from Malaysia, is an all-digital mobile-first and multi-awarded bank.
Features and capabilities include fast account opening, a personalized Visa debit card, savings accounts, digital loan applications, and more.
CIMB Bank PH has signed in over 2.5 million customers since their first year of operations and has received numerous accolades, securing 12 awards including Global Finance’s Best Digital Consumer Bank and Asian Banker’s Best Digital Bank.
Headquartered in Singapore, Tonik is an upcoming digital bank in the Philippines targeting the country’s unbanked populations. Tonik plans to provide retail financial products, including deposits, loans, current accounts, payments, and cards on a highly secure digital banking platform.
Tonik was granted a banking license in the Philippines and plans to launch in the Southeast Asian country later this year. The startup has raised US$27 million in funding so far.
Advance claims it is the first salary on-demand provider in the Philippines. The startup offers fast, convenient and affordable financial service to Filipino employees, improving engagement, financial wellness and enriching a company’s benefits program.
Advance issues short-term, multipurpose salary advances to all eligible employees without the fixed long tenors or high minimum loan amounts. The application process is all online and takes seconds, and disbursement is instant upon approval.
Launched in 2019, Advance has been adopted by some of the biggest companies in the Philippines. The startup is backed by the likes of Next Billion Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Dymon Asia Ventures and Accion Venture Lab.
Headquartered in Singapore, Asenso operates an integrated digital platform for MSMEs.
A joint venture between Talino and CARD-MRI, Asenso’s products include an online marketplace, an AI-powered credit scoring system, chatbot-assisted loan applications, natural language processing to support local languages, and an e-wallet.
Asenso raised US$1.2 million in funding in 2019.
SeekCap allows MSMEs to apply for a loan using a digital platform. They can complete their application and get updates on their approval remotely. The platform also gives them access to tailored loan products, including financing for their inventory, payroll needs, expenses payables, and more.
As of May 2020, over 6,000 MSMEs had signed up on the lending marketplace, with a 300% increase in loans application posted during the first quarter, UBX said.
Launched in 2017, Uploan targets the salary deducted lending market, offering institutional and retail investors an alternative way of investing. Operated by New Cross Credit Gate, the platform provides fast and flexible loan solutions to Filipino employees, focusing on financial wellness options that fit each employee’s needs.
Uploan claims it is the first company to have developed its own credit score model to deliver low interest, same-day salary deducted loans for employees.
Kwik.insure is an upcoming online insurance marketplace that aims to bridge the insurance gap in the Philippines.
The insurtech startup is set to launch its digital platform by the end of 2020 to let Filipinos avail of insurance products from different firms through an online insurance marketplace. Initially, it will offer health, life, travel, mobile and automotive insurance products.
Singlife Philippines is a digital life insurance company backed by Singapore Life (Singlife) based in Singapore, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, a local conglomerate, and a Singaporean investment company Di-Firm.
Singlife Philippines received its license to operate this year and recently partnered with mobile wallet GCash. Singlife and GCash’s first joint offering is Cash for Dengue Costs, a protection product that provides a multi-level benefit against medical costs due to mild to severe cases of dengue.
Saphron is an insurtech startup aimed at making financial protection and assistance accessible. The startup uses cutting-edge technology to address insurance penetrations gaps in Southeast Asia and serve lower-income populations.
Saphron currently offers two main products: Nan.ai, a platform that allows microinsurance agents to onboard clients; and the Saphron Market, an online marketplace that offers bite-sized, on-demand protection and “insurance accessories.”